On Monday, Ring of Honor seemingly put an end to the persistent rumors that their working relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling had come to a silent split when they announced the leader of Bullet Club, Jay White, would be competing on the company’s SuperCard of Honor XIV show during WrestleMania Week. Further supporting the ROH/NJPW relationship continuing into 2020, was a report which followed ROH’s announcement, courtesy of Mike Johnson of Pro Wrestling Insider. According to PWI’s sources, White won’t be coming alone as he’ll be joined by other Bullet Club members who are expected to appear on the event in a “top-level main event match.”
The Lion Returns to the Den
Full details: https://t.co/cKRYzAdph2
Tickets go on sale Jan. 15 at 10 am ET for HonorClub members & Jan. 17 at 10 am ET for the general public pic.twitter.com/Z3GNuwPtmC
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) January 13, 2020
Having last appeared in Ring of Honor back in April of last year for the co-promoted G1 SuperCard, Jay White has more history with the promotion than some might recall. Throughout 2016-17, White, who was on his Young Lion excursion in the U.S., wrestled 53 matches for ROH, including taking part in the tournament to crown ROH’s first-ever six-man champs, where his team (Jay White, KUSHIDA and Lio Rush) lost in the final to the Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia). In doing so, White grew both as a performer and as a wrestler, with opportunities to wrestle Christopher Daniels, Kenny King, Donovan Dijak, Jay Briscoe, Kyle O’Reilly, Jonathan Gresham, Will Ospreay, Adam Cole, Punishment Martinez, Marty Scrull, Jay Lethal, Taven and more.
Alongside Gresham and the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin), Jay White was involved in the ROH faction, Search and Destroy. While in ROH, he also had the opportunity to challenge for the six-man titles on several occasions, the world tag team titles – held by the Young Bucks at the time, the television title and most notably, the world title, where he took on then-champion Christopher Daniels, and Punishment Martinez at Gateway to the Gold in June 2017. Jay White’s U.S. excursion ended after one-and-a-half years, with his final ROH match taking place in October 2017. White wouldn’t wrestle again until January 2018, where he was re-debuted as “The Switchblade” and took on Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 12. White joined CHAOS, rebuffing an offer to join Bullet Club from Kenny Omega and in just his fourth match back with NJPW, White defeated Omega, a rare feat, to win the IWGP United States Championship.
It was clear then that NJPW had big plans for the young New Zealander, plans which began to take shape in that year’s G1 Climax where White scored a respectable 12 points with notable victories over Michael Elgin, Tanahashi, and most importantly, CHAOS leader and then-IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada. After turning on CHAOS alongside Okada’s longtime manager Gedo in order to become Bullet Club’s fifth leader, Jay White received his first chance at contendership for the top title in October at King of Pro Wrestling, where he lost to Tanahashi. In the midst of this run, White made his way back to ROH as part of the War of the Worlds tours in February and May of 2018.
In NJPW, 2019 was the year of Jay White’s ascension as the promotion’s top gaijin wrestler. After defeating Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 13, White found himself near the top of the pecking order. At February’s New Beginning, he challenged and defeated the new champ, Tanahashi, to claim the top gold in NJPW. White only held the belt for two months, dropping it to Okada at his ROH return as part of the co-branded G1 Supercard in April. That summer, White competed in his second G1, winning his block with 12 points and victories over Jeff Cobb, Jon Moxley, Tetsuya Naito, Juice Robinson and more. In the final, Jay White lost his chance at the briefcase as he was pinned after a 31-minute match, by Kota Ibushi. In September 2019, White defeated Naito again, this time for the latter’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship. White held the title until Wrestle Kingdom 14, dropping it back to Naito.
Now a top star in NJPW, Jay White returns to the ROH ring for the first time (not counting co-branded events) since his excursion ended in 2017. And as mentioned above, this time, he may not be coming back to ROH alone.
The One-Night Only Return of Bullet Club?
When the Young Bucks, Hangman Page, Cody and to a lesser extent Kenny Omega, chose to start the All Elite Wrestling venture, Ring of Honor was left without an incarnation of Bullet Club for the first time since the faction was started in 2013. The lone remaining former Bullet Club member on their roster, Marty Scrull, had disassociated with his old faction, opting instead to create a group under his own leadership, Villain Enterprises. The void left by the Bullet Club’s departure gutted ROH in many ways, not the least of which was the company losing its top draws. Only recently has ROH replaced the presence of Bullet Club in some way, by bringing their version of CMLL’s Los Ingobernables to the company, under the billing of La Faccion Ingobernable. It is the first U.S. based branch of the faction which originated in Mexico and also became hugely popular in Japan with NJPW’s LIJ.
Since the Elite’s departure in 2018, ROH has seldom used Bullet Club save for the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa), who won the ROH World Tag Team Championship at the G1 Supercard event in NYC last year. In fact, in 2019, excluding shows which ROH and NJPW co-promoted, aside from GOD, only Chase Owens and Hikuleo, who took part in the UK Honor United Tour, wrestled on Ring of Honor specific branded shows. Overall, including the co-branded shows, the 10 members of Bullet Club combined for just 25 total matches under the ROH banner this past year. None of these matches were classic six/eight-man Bullet Club tags either, as the contests have been sporadic throughout the year. Bullet Club has not been seen in ROH as a full/mostly full unit since the departure of the Elite but perhaps that is about to change.
— Steven Chanzis (@StevieChanz) January 13, 2020
With the announcement that NJPW was creating its own USA branch, NJPW of America, and the recent use of AEW’s Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley on big cards, much was speculated on what the future of ROH and NJPW’s partnership held. With Monday’s announcement of Jay White and perhaps his Bullet Club teammates coming to the states for Supercard of Honor, it may seem, at least for now, that such rumors of ROH/NJPW’s partnership demise, were a bit premature.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch ROH Replays as well as exclusive events at HonorClub.